Recently a mom group I am a member of on Facebook posted a video of Dr. Brene Brown discussing her "Wholehearted Parenting Manifesto" with Oprah. I was laying in my bed watching the video and I decided then and there to sit Ryan down and come up with a list of important traits, lessons, and truths we would want not only Eli but any future children to know/have. We had discussed this several times when we dedicated Eli at church, but never got around to it. This week we did.
The whole idea of a parenting manifesto is important to us because we believe you must begin with end in mind. Being an early childhood teacher I have heard countless parents tell me "Oh you know, boys will be boys" or "They are just children do you really expect them to _____" or some other excuse for a child's poor behavior or lack of self control. And while yes they are children right now they will not be forever. We view parenting as not raising a child, but raising a young man (in the case of Eli). I won't say "boys will boys" because he will not always be a boy, one day he will be a man, and we want for him to be a man of self discipline, determination, honest and integrity. These are things you instill in children at a very young age and reenforce their entire life through.
That being said OF COURSE we will let him be a little boy and play in the mud, climb trees, and all the other things that come in the miraculous package that is "little boy-dom" but we will not allow him to be too rough, too wild, or any other thing that people excuse as "boys being boys".
Now, we by no means, believe that we have this down cold. We know that we will slip, loose our minds, say and do things we will regret and that Eli (and any other children we have in the future) are little individuals who will make their own choices no matter what we teach them. We do not, for one second, think that this is the end-all, be-all of parenting, or that we have more than a slight clue of what we are doing. We just believe that if you aim for nothing you will hit it every time, and that's not good enough for the precious child(ren) God has entrusted us with. This is our aim. Our parenting manifesto.
You are a treasured gift. Above all else WE want you to know that you are loved unconditionally. You were fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who makes no mistakes. We will show you you are loved and treasured by the way we treat you, our actions and our words. You are lovable and worthy of love. We will model this for you by practicing self-compassion and embracing our own flaws as well as yours. In our home everyone's thoughts and opinions are valued. Our home is a safe place to be who you are and we will help you set boundaries so you can become who you want to be. You are enough. Just as you are. We will practice showing you this daily by monitoring my words and actions towards you and most importantly towards ourselves. This will be a family built on honesty. When we mess up we will own it, apologize and learn from our mistake. We will be a people of our word. We will work hard and we will celebrate in our victories and our defeats, both are necessary in life. Kindness is important. We will be kind to each other, kind to people outside our home, but most importantly we will be kind to ourselves. We want for you to be joyful so we will practice gratitude and service.We will teach you to be courageous and where true courage emanates from. We will pray for you daily. There will be times when you are hurting, know that more than anything we will want to take away your pain, but instead we will come alongside you and teach you how to feel your pain and overcome it. This will be a home of laughter and silliness. We will sing and dance together-no matter you skill level! This is your safe place. We will be authentic with you and allow you to learn from our mistakes. We will model Godliness and humility. We will put God before all else in our lives. We will practice forgiveness with ourselves and each other. We wish that we could do all this perfectly, but and we will model self-compassion when we fail. We want you to know that we see you, really see who you are and we value you. You are our most precious gift. You are important.
I am sure as we grow our manifesto will grow and change, but here is where we start. Beginning with the end in mind.
**We used several of the same wordings as Dr. Brown. I am not that eloquent with words. See attached video.